Bib 877 reporting!
End of August 2016, holiday resort: Chamonix. Temperature: hot, too hot, some would say... The onlookers stroll through the alleys, a week, an atmosphere, a great play... More than 80 nationalities are represented to participate in one of the major world events of the trail.
The Mecca of the trail, a few pros but many amateurs, the pictures are going well but no matter, the organization is up to the event, the volunteers have a smile, we are very well settled in a cosy chalet, the mountain is at the party!
Some celebrations have already begun.
The PTL has opened the "Petite Trotte à Léon" ball (290 km and 26500 m of D+), when you love....
Our turn will come on Friday at 6:00 p. m. This gives us a few days to relax in the valley between a nap, terrace, wandering and paragliding experience. Cyril joins us on Thursday, as do the patu,
Claudine and Michel came as supporters this year after many participations to their credit.
Friday the 18th, let the party begin!
We left two thousand five hundred and fifty-four but by a prompt reinforcement
We saw each other one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight when we arrived at the port,
So much to see us walking around with such a face,
The most frightened were getting brave again!
Several months after completing this tour of the Mont Blanc, the memories are still numerous and intact. A few moments ago during these 45 hours and 41mn during the UTMB.
At first, no one could remain insensitive to this crying crowd in the alleys of Chamonix, a surrealist crossing with the appearance of a fantastic epic under a shimmering sun.
Small economical strides in the company of Cyril and Olivier, it is the awareness, we are there after these months of preparation. Les Houches, le Délevret, Saint-Gervais, les Contamines follow one another with simplicity, prudence, pleasure and restraint. Listening to the sensations, the breathing, few efforts are granted in these countries recognized a few months earlier. I meet Caro, Claudine and Michel for my greatest pleasure.
The night has fallen on the summits, the fronts are criss-crossing the paths, we are making good progress with Olivier, Vincent in reporter mode is never very far away.
11pm, the first ascents are coming: The refuge of the man's cross (1924 old and its history to discover here). A little over 1000m of D+, nothing technical, we get to the heart of the matter.
Once there, we have to go back to the Chapieux, still in my bubble, I go down carefully and spare my four-color process, some of them run down like hungry ibexes. The torrents of June have dried up, it's less slippery, but I'm still having an ankle, a beautiful fright, but the pain will only be temporary.
It is June, same place, torrents of water fall on me. Finally, in the shelter of the chapieux refuge (1554m), a blueberry pie later and a reborn sun, I found myself attacking the Col de la Seigne (2516).
It is 2:30 in the morning, a starry night, the moon lights the summits, I advance in a small joyful group, the slope is gentle, the morale excellent, an extraordinary form, generous in the effort, it is exhilarating, so I double, redouble and let myself be taken in the game. The race plan is going according to plan, the fantastic ascent begins!
It is 3pm, the sky has darkened and the first flashes of lightning are falling, there is a rumbling behind me, the beauty of nature, I am alone in the Col de Seigne, towards Courmayeur. I doubt it, you have to go back more than 2500m, with this time, I may get expensive. A refuge on my way, perfect! The day will stop here (Chalet refuge des mottets, 1864m). The opportunity to meet hikers from all walks of life and Christophe, a friendly Belgian future UTMB finisher, was an excellent moment.
Saturday morning, 4:54 am, Col de la Seigne, fresh wind and acceptable temperature, already 60km of hiking.
Direction the pass of the limestone pyramids (2563m) that I did not recognize in June, the path is not marked. The slope rises, quickly, my heart races, the breathing speeds up, the legs weaken, every step becomes a fight and my lucidity abandons me, the body becomes uncontrollable. In an instant everything went away!
But we have to move on in the fucking stone quarry I curse!
A step, a pause, I move forward, I am doubled by package, helpless spectator wandering in this rock like a puppet. The day breaks and reveals a huge sea of clouds covering the combal lake. Great, I offer myself a moment of fullness at the Elisabetta refuge, contemplative. There are about 100km left...a straw;) (but Michel's voice echoes to me "it always comes back..."), so I walk, I move forward.
Objectif Courmayeur, finally find Caro and do the cherry again.
We follow the combal lake and its mystical atmosphere, for several hours I can't swallow anything and drink becomes difficult, my digestive system has gone away....
Next stop, the ridge of Mount Favre (2417m). Where I was climbing tempo two months earlier, on this Saturday morning, the steps are heavier and less precise and yet the wonder is still there.
8am at the summit, a ravito and its incredible view on the south face of Mont Blanc.
Lying in the grass like Tom Sawyer, I enjoy it, intoxicated by the effort, the sleepless night and the atmosphere. I force myself to swallow a gel and leave, not far away, my body having decided otherwise, the Checrouit pass will wait a little... I vomit before the eyes of other benevolent runners (It's okay, it's okay... you talk yeah yeah!!!! a bad time to spend, and I go back to attack Courmayeur!
Courmayeur finally appears after his intermiiiiiiiiiiiiinaiinaaaaaaaaaaaable descent... It is 9h48, first objective reached! The reunion room looks like a refugee camp, the celebration has indeed begun!
Lying in a pitiful state, I keep vomiting. My darling takes care of me, I let myself go. An hour goes by, I go to the infirmary. A motilium later, a plate of pasta and a few words from Caro were enough to get me back on my feet. It's 11:50, Courmayeur is behind me, the adventure continues. Outside is the furnace! A new day begins with a smile on my face towards the Bertone refuge (1979m). The challenge becomes different, having missed my time objectives, the time is up.
The ascent in the open forest is a real pleasure because it hits hard above! 13h20 at the refuge, guaranteed Italian atmosphere and incredible view.
CCC's memories are coming back and I take pure pleasure in rushing down these pastures. Morale is high, quiet strength is on the rise.
15h05 - Refuge Bonatti, one of my favourite places on this route because of the point of view it offers on Mont Blanc and its feeling of proximity. Always contemplative and amazed, in a state of trans, between exhaustion and drowsiness, haggard. Caro informed me that Olivier was not far away, so I'm waiting. The patu of the mountains comes up his nose, looking tired. It's good to meet the guys!
We do a quick assessment of our condition, we exchange some bullshit.
I am sleepy and collapsing without warning on the concrete on the terrace of the refuge while Olivier is on the road again. 20 minutes later, the alarm clock rings, lying in the sun, in paradise? where am I? facing Mont Blanc, let the dream continue...
I regain consciousness, the clock is ticking, you have to go back, this micro nap has made me feel better and I leave light legs with a small group at a reasonable pace.
Arnuva, 5:17 p. m. Little margin on the time barrier, lightning ravito. On the way to the ascent of the Grand Col Ferret (2525m).
I'm following in the footsteps of two chicks, effective! Almost 2 hours of quiet climb. Vincent, at the top, gives me some information about his brother. Then follows a long descent to the fouly through the mountain pastures of la peule. It's time for euphoria, we go down with two other riders and after more than 10h, I meet Caro again! It's 8:15, the ecstasy, we both run a good 15 minutes to the ravito. It is also the adventure for Caro who has been following us since the beginning....
Moment of complete relaxation, the temperature has dropped, shivering, tired, the rain coming, the approaching storm and its lightning in the distance, and if it were easier to stay here to wait for the time barrier to clear me? The pleasure is still there but exhaustion does its job of undermining....
A phone call to my father, encouragement from friends, didou in particular, morale is back! Cyril is 45 minutes away, I'll wait for him and come what may. There he is! No hurry for two cents....
We leave under the storm almost alone, in hiking mode, it's cool to share a part of the way together. Still unable to swallow anything or even drink, the strength is getting weaker, Cyril drags me up the hill and I vomit again but paradoxically, the pleasure is still there.
First step of this new adventure. Caro's here, I'm doing a 10-minute mini som'.
She found motilium in her pockets. It could be useful... I swallow one.
We are going back to the assault on Bovine. I prefer to let Cyril go and climb at my own pace. Ah bovine, dear bovine, so dreaded, I had a revenge to take on this part of the course...more info here. Well settled in a small group, in silence, in the night, we climb slowly but serenely. The guy behind ends up screaming (IT'S ENOUGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!), it's much colder, it's long, very long, sometimes you think it's over but no, you have to keep climbing again and again in the night, relentless, regular, the end is never far but never very close, it's earned, for me, one of the most intense moments of this UTMB.
I arrive at the Giète around 5am to start the descent to Trient. A little technical with its share of roots, alone with my weak headwind, accompanied by hallucinations in the night, a pure moment of happiness.
6am, I meet Cyril just before the ravito of Trient (a small Swiss commune in the canton of Valais to which I pay particular attention because I had laid down my arms there in 2012.) A haggard guy looks for his bag while he has it on his shoulders... others have gotten lost in the forest, everything is normal...
The nausea is gone, I'm hungry as a wolf! The digestive system has restarted, let the feast begin! We decided with Cyril to "play" with the time barriers by keeping a small margin of one hour. At that moment, the forces have returned, the day rises a second time during the race, we will go all the way, together. We have 30km left....
We go up to Catogne (2034), the mood is good! Back to France!
10am - Vallorcine
The hike continues, head to the wind... Another of my favorite passages for its panorama on the green needle and the whole Mont Blanc range. I had recognized this climb in June and knew the ultimate difficulty. 13h18 at 2127m altitude, let's enjoy it again because the adventure will end in a few hours.... We return to La Flégère and meet Claudine, Michel and Aurore for our greatest pleasure. There are still 7 km to go back to Chamonix, Claudine will accompany us on this family trail-like descent on Sunday. Caro will immortalize our return.
A flood of emotions, satisfaction, humility and pride during these last few meters.
The adventure was beautiful, intense, sometimes euphoric, sometimes confusing with its share of surprises, unknowns, twists and turns, encounters, so many emotions can only feed the soul with a feeling of happiness.
Thanks for the top organization, the many volunteers, the Patu, Michel, Aurore, Claudine, Cyril with whom I would have shared 18 hours of running and 60km... to all those who followed me closely or from afar and especially to my unconditional Caro without whom this would not have been possible.
Congratulations to Olivier for finishing in 43h21!